Today, the largest companies are taking the next step with crane storage and miniload, and in fact, today it is the smaller companies that have the greatest need for storage machines.
Is a storage machine the same as an automatic warehouse?
No, but it is also not an intermediate solution, where picking and storage is done manually. A storage machine operates according to the principle goods-to-operator, the same principle as miniload & crane warehouses, where a lift brings the tray with the goods forward in a picking opening.
A fully automated solution also automates that part of the work, and in turn is often a comprehensive investment that can be too expensive for smaller companies. With a storage machine, companies with approx. 300-4,000 picking lines a day achieve great benefits.
What is the reason for buying storage machines?
The short answer is: to be competitive. Today's market, both for B2B and B2C companies, is characterized by many players competing to sell the same goods, often at the same price. How do you stand out then? By being able to deliver as quickly as possible and have as low logistics costs as possible. Storage machines can, on average, pick items 3 times as fast as a manual warehouse.
Look no further than your own household. Most of us have tried to order online for the home. Often there are many different suppliers and the price varies only slightly. But what determines the case is the delivery time. If you cannot get the item quickly, you skip to the next supplier.
In the same way, there are many companies that depend on receiving the goods quickly and safely, because they must be able to serve their customers just as quickly and safely. A storage machine can make you the preferred supplier.
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The triple efficiency is not the only advantage of an investment in storage machines. Several of them have to do with space utilisation.
Companies that are struggling with a lack of space in the warehouse may, with advantages, consider purchasing storage machines as an alternative to renting larger and more expensive premises. Let us name a few:
The employees save walking time, as the goods now come to them rather than the other way around
The storage machine utilises the height of the warehouse, and uses only minimal floor space
The machine can be adapted to the warehouse layout, e.g. installed on the outside, but have the pick opening inside.
Another advantage is that you always have the exact stock, not just once a year at status. This means that at all times you only sell what you actually have in stock.
When smaller companies continue to hesitate to invest in storage machines, it is often the price that determines it, clearly, it’s cheaper to buy new shelving. Storage machines usually need a 3 to 4 year payback period. However, a well-run business should be able to make smart long-term investments without crossing the pain line.
We’re often asked how difficult is it to connect the storage machines to the company's ERP system, especially if the company itself does not have staff with IT knowledge.
It has certainly created challenges in the past, but we have many years of experience in this area, so we know the most common challenges, and the software has evolved so that it is much easier to integrate.
The logistics industry is constantly evolving and businesses are always battling for that competitive edge to win the customers’ favour. You may not see an immediate financial return with storage machines, but the immediate benefit to your business is undeniable. Improved stock accuracy and pick rates will improve the overall productivity of the business.